6 Ways to Stop Sabotaging Your Relationship

6 Ways to Stop Sabotaging Your Relationship February 8, 2019

Dear Terry,

I’ve been feeling very concerned about my ability to keep a relationship going for long. They usually end badly and I’m wondering if my trust issues play a part. My parent’s divorced when I was eight years old and they never remarried so I guess I worry I’ll follow in their footsteps.

I  seem to sabotage my own happiness by finding fault in my boyfriends. For example, when I’m arguing with Jonathan, I blow small things out of proportion when he did something even slightly suspicious such as texting a female co-worker. I usually donn’t give him a chance to explain and issue an ultimatum such as “I’m done with you and breaking it off .”

The final straw for me was when Jonathan said he was unwilling to stop going bowling with his friends on Friday nights. I hit the roof and he thinks I’m too possessive.  Johnathan said that my mistrust is ruining our relationship. I realize now that he’s only gone a few hours and we can spend time together afterwards so it probably isn’t a deal breaker.

I hope you can help me to stop sabotaging my relationships because I’m at the breaking point. I know I need to make some changes or I’ll lose out on love and Jonathan and I will split up.


Hi Haley,


In order to stop sabotaging relationships, you are wise to examine how your trust issues are getting in the way of creating a loving partnership. For instance, as you describe your trust issue with Johnathan, it sounds like it was a remnant from your parents’ divorce and that you never really give him a chance to explain himself when you notice him contacting a female co-worker.

Sometimes people’s actions are not intentionally hurtful and it’s possible that he wasn’t aware that this was a hot-button issue for you. Since you were convinced that your mistrustful feelings were because of his behavior, you spent too much time analyzing him rather examining ways you could have extended trust to him and worked on communication.

The good news is that trust is a skill that can be practiced in the context of a relationship with a partner who is dependable and shows consistency between his or her words and actions. The first step in building trust in relationships is to work on your fear of being vulnerable and not holding in your feelings with partners – allowing you to reach a deeper level of intimacy.

One of the hardest things about trusting someone is learning to have confidence in your own judgment. Trust is about much more than catching your partner in a truth or lie. It’s about believing that he or she has your best interests at heart. Every person is born with the propensity to trust others but through life experiences, you may have become less trusting as a form of self-protection.

Many relationships are sabotaged by self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe your partner will hurt you, you can unconsciously encourage hurts to emerge in your relationship. But day by day, if you learn to operate from a viewpoint that your partner loves you and wants the best for you, you can enjoy trust in your life. For instance, you seem to have unrealistic or rigid expectations of how others should treat you and so you are easily disappointed. Then when a partner treats you badly, your suspicions are confirmed. Yet you failed to set healthy boundaries from the beginning.

6 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Relationships:

1. Gain awareness of your history – dating back to childhood. For instance, if you are a people pleaser you may be drawn to partners who you attempt to fix or repair. Learn more about how your parents’ unhealthy patterns have impacted your choices in partners.
2. Accept your part in the dynamic. For example, if you’re experiencing mistrust try to figure out how much your feelings are based on the present and how much on the past. It’s natural for one person to see their style as preferred and to be convinced that their partner needs to change – neglecting to see their part in the struggle.
3. Let go of being a victim and positive things will start to happen. When you see yourself as a victim, your actions will confirm a negative view of yourself. Instead, focus on the strengths that helped you cope so far in life. Don’t obsess about past choices in partners but learn from them.
4. Examine your expectations about intimate relationships. You might be focused on your dream of how a relationship should be rather than the reality of how it is – leading to disappointment. There is no such thing as a soul mate or perfect partner. If your partner lets you down, don’t always assume that a failure in competence is intentional – sometimes people simply make a mistake.
5.  Make sure that you have common values and beliefs with people you date. Pinpoint destructive traits in some of the partners you are attractive to. Finding a good match may require that you choose a new “type” in the future, according to dating expert Cija Black.
6. Write a new narrative or story for your life– one that includes taking your time picking partners who are trustworthy and willing to work on a committed relationship if that’s your desire.

People who enjoy healthy relationships have learned from their mistakes and have treated their setbacks with compassion. With an empathic attitude, you can start to connect to the rest of the world, as you remember that we are all flawed in some way. And you start to realize that the wonderful thing about behavior is that it can be improved. I wish you well on your journey for more love, trust, and commitment.

Follow Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy A Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship was published in January of 2016 by Sourcebooks.

I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry 


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